How E-commerce has changed shopping forever

E-commerce is the fastest growing retail sector in North America. The fact that shoppers can buy almost anything they desire at the click of a button has had a huge impact on the wider retail market, with many bricks and mortar stores struggling to battle the booming trend of online shopping.  However, there continues to be a need for in-store shopping, most of all on big ticket items that customers feel nervous purchasing over the Internet, such as cars, white goods, furniture, etc. Indeed, the introduction and rise of e-commerce hasn’t wholly replaced traditional retail channels, but it has changed them forever…

The rise of ‘showrooming’

Even before online shopping, or e-commerce, took the stronghold it has today, many physical retail spaces were beginning to adopt a more pared-back aesthetic. That is, reducing the amount of stock on show, and using the store to portray an aspirational lifestyle. This was especially evident in the fashion and homeware market, but was also beginning to happen in beauty and technology too. This trend was a response to the increasing consumer behavior of ‘showrooming’ — shoppers using the in-store experience to confirm their interest to purchase, and then completing the transaction online.  Consider your local Apple store: how different would that shopping experience feel if there were countless iPads, iPhones and laptops stacked up in the shelves? The item certainly wouldn’t feel as premium, aspirational or desirable. It may even appear cheap and conventional — two brand qualities not readily associated with Apple. By using a showroom approach, Apple encourages their customers to come in and engage with the product — handle it, use it, test its ergonomics — and then either purchase in-store or, more likely, purchase at home via the Internet.

A brand’s digital presence is more important than ever

With fewer shoppers physically engaging with brands via their packaging — which was once the in-store salesman — how a brand portrays itself online is paramount. Indeed, every digital moment of engagement is an opportunity to sell. Be it an Instagram post, a Tweet, a banner ad or an email; each of these touchpoints must be designed to be cohesive and seamless with the brand’s wider identity and personality. Failure to present a seamless personality through all brand touchpoints can result in lack of sales. Website and E-commerce developers know this, and so will work hard to ensure user experience, graphic design and selling tools are optimal online. For best in class examples, visit eventige.com.

Consumers are bargain hunting more than before

Because the Internet offers shoppers a quick and simple way to compare product prices — scanning different websites and using online coupon codes for discounts — the common consumer is more price sensitive and bargain-savvy than in recent years. Such behavior has a knock on effect for physical retail too, as customers expect the price they see online to be replicated in store, regardless of the overhead expenses involved in having a brick and mortar presence.

 

So, what next for e-commerce?

Looking further into 2018, it’s likely that developments in Artificial Intelligence and other technology will shape the future of e-commerce; how though, waits to be seen.

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Blockchain databases and what they mean for you

 

Blockchain databases represent the latest technology to fire the collective imaginations in Silicon Valley and tech hubs around the world.

They allow a distributed network of database users to create updates in real time – all without the need for a centralized administrator.

Although the original Blockchain rose to prominence as the technology that made Bitcoin possible, it’s now taking off amongst more conventional financial users, such as banks.

Standard databases, such as those built on top of the popular MySQL technology, are protected from both reading and writing by the general public.

If you call your insurance company, for example, the person at the end of the line updates the company’s database based on the information that you provide.From the security governance perspective, this company is the ‘central authority’ administering the database, and having to relay changes through it naturally slows down the update process.

Distributed Blockchain databases, on the other hand, leverage the power of “the crowd” – the online community as a whole – to make the updating process much faster. This is achieved by creating a large global network made up of a replicating series of nodes that reconcile one another in near real time. Because these nodes all contain the same information, it’s virtually impossible for the entire database to fail, or, just as importantly, be hacked.

The same technology that allowed Bitcoin users near-guaranteed anonymity, while also offering a robust currency independent of any national bank, is now set to transform the E-commerce space.

One of the most promising fields for Blockchain-based firms is smart contracts. These are online agreements where the release of funds is automatically triggered when the necessary conditions are met. They have the potential to eliminate the fraud that can occur when conducting transactions with strangers, and are seen by many as the next stage of the Blockchain revolution.

For years, ‘Blockchain without Bitcoin’ was considered by investors to be a mere pipe dream, but now investment capital has begun to pour into disruptive startups that are proving the ambitious, paradigm-shifting technology is capable of driving broad applications. Haim Toledano and Saar Pilosof are two of the heavy-hitting venture capitalists who have recently backed up-and-coming companies in the sector.

 

“Everyone wants to be able to buy and sell online with total confidence, in terms of the security of their money and their personal information,” explains Toledano. “Now that the technology has finally arrived, we’re about to see an explosion in the overall value of the E-Commerce economy and that’s why the major players of the future will be built on Blockchains.”   

Illustration with word cloud with the word Blockchain.

Security Matters: Improving Customer Safety on Your E-commerce Site

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